Latinos make strides in attaining credentials

Source: Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce analysis of data from Restricted Use Education Longitudinal Study, 2002-12.

Latinos are making progress in attaining postsecondary credentials, largely among certificates and associate degrees, according to a new report.

That’s positive, as more Latinos are able to secure jobs in growing fields that need skilled workers, such as construction, noted the study by the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University. However, as the Latino population grows, the number of Latinos earning baccalaureates and higher degrees is not keeping with the pace.

Latino learners tend to concentrate at community colleges, with almost two-thirds initially enrolling in certificate or associate degree programs, compared to 42 percent of whites and 52 percent of blacks. Only 35 percent of Latinos enroll directly in baccalaureate programs.

But Latinos have the highest completion rate for certificates, compared to whites and blacks: 60 percent of Latinos who initially enroll in a certificate program completed their award at their first institution, compared to 47 percent of whites and 37 percent of blacks, the report said.

Although more Latinos also are going to college and acquiring postsecondary education faster than whites, the difference between whites and Latinos is growing. In 1992, Latinos were 23 percentage points behind whites in postsecondary attainment, and 10 percentage points behind blacks. In 2016, they were 29 percentage points behind whites and 21 percentage points behind blacks.

The study noted that Latinos are the fastest-growing share of the U.S. workforce, expected to increase to 30 percent by 2050. But they tend to concentrate in occupations that require less education and where wage growth is the slowest, often even when they acquire postsecondary credentials.

However, those middle-skill jobs are available in the workforce. The study cited that these jobs tend to pay at least $35,000 in early careers and at least $45,000 at mid-career, with a median of $55,000 overall.

“Latinos have made the most progress in getting good jobs requiring less than a bachelor’s degree, in part, because of their progress in earning sub-baccalaureate credentials but also, in part, because they continue to gain an outsized share of good jobs that require high school or less at the entry level,” the report said.

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